The viola da gamba returns
February 26, 2019 3:42 PM   Subscribe

How a Movie Helped Fuel a Viola da Gamba Revival. "The 1991 film Tous les Matins du Monde ('All the World's Mornings') influenced a renaissance of the viola da gamba. The viol virtuoso Jordi Savall is touring his music for the film[,] which gave the Baroque instrument its big-screen moment." Based on the book of the same name, the film is a dramatization of the apprenticeship of royal court musician and viol player Marin Marais to the reclusive 17th century viol master Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe.

Tous les Matins du Monde on Vimeo.

Tous les Matins du Monde Soundtrack - YouTube playlist.

WQXR (Twitter) and Carnegie Hall present: Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations Live From Carnegie Hall

Here are some pieces I like which are featured in the film:

"Les Pleurs" for solo basse de viole ("Tears") by Sainte Colombe, solo version performed by Jordi Savall. This is a section of "Tombeau Les Regrets."

"Tombeau Les Regrets" by Sainte-Colombe.

"Tombeau pour M. de Sainte-Colombe" by Marin Marais.

(A tombeau is "a musical composition (earlier, in the early 16th century, a poem) commemorating the death of a notable individual.")

Concert à deux violes "La Retour" by Sainte-Colombe.

"Improvisations Sur Les Folies d'Espagne" (extrait) This is an excerpt of the "Follies of Spain" performed by Jordi Savall.

"Folías de España" with Jordi Savall and friends. This is the whole piece, with other instruments.

(La Folía (Spanish), or Follies of Spain (English), also known as folies d'Espagne (French), Follia (Italian), and Folia (Portuguese), "is one of the oldest remembered[citation needed] European musical themes, or primary material, generally melodic, of a composition, on record. The theme exists in two versions, referred to as early and late folias, the earlier being faster.")

More viol links:

The Viola da Gamba Society of America (Twitter)

The Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain

Viols In Our Schools: Bringing Early Music to Wider Audiences (Twitter.) "Based in the Chicago area, Viols in Our Schools is organized by Dr. Phillip Serna (Twitter) who works to bring Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Contemporary music for solo viol and viol consort to area schools."

ViolMedium. "Founded by gambists Eric Miller & Phillip Serna, the viol is the medium through which we bridge contemporary & historically-informed performance with experimental and innovative programming for violas da gamba!" (Twitter)

ACRONYM (Twitter)

LeStrange Viols (Twitter)

The Gamba Geek (Águeda Macias.)
posted by homunculus (32 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Call it: the viola da gambit.
posted by doctornemo at 4:11 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


More seriously, I loved this film. I'd played cello as a teenager, and was just starting my 18th-century studies, so I was all over it.

Gorgeous, gorgeous music.

Also the unusual trick of doing a baroque era film with downplayed visuals. People are mostly wearing simple clothes and hanging out in simple interiors or outside (without elaborate gardens). But when we see the baroque style, like in the conducting scene, WHAM!
posted by doctornemo at 4:16 PM on February 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Do any of the videos show the instrument being played live?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:33 PM on February 26, 2019


Captain Tobias Hume (1569 - 1645) was a soldier, a musician and quite a character, and one of my favorite viola da gamba composers.

"Lamentations" performed by Hille Perl (Twitter) and her daughter Marthe Perl.

Lamentations is a beautifulpiece, but perhaps somewhat conventional to modern ears. Not so the next one:

"Tobacco," No.3 the Musicall Humours (1605) performed by Phillip W. Serna.

Another rendition:

"Tobacco" performed by Francisco Manalich

And here's another piece from "The Musicall Humors" (I think):

"Harke, Harke" (1605) performed by Águeda Macias aka The Gamba Geek.

From Wikipedia: "Hume was also known as a prankster, as some of his somewhat unusual compositions illustrate. His most notorious piece was 'An Invention for Two to Play upone one Viole.' Two bows are required and the smaller of the two players is obliged to sit in the lap of the larger player."

I feared I would never see or hear a performance of this piece, but via Gamba Geek here's a short excerpt performed by Mario Orlando e Cecilia Aprigliano!

The Princess Almayne - Tobias Hume -1607
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


> Do any of the videos show the instrument being played live?

Yes. "Folías de España" and all the clips in my comment abut Hume except "Lamentations" show the instrument being played.
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on February 26, 2019


Speaking of Hille Perl, here's a live performance of a short piece for viol and lute by her and her musical collaborator Lee Santana:

O`Carolan´s Dream
posted by homunculus at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2019


I started listening to viola da gamba music again after a long hiatus a week ago after one of my cats died. She liked the sound of the viol. I was (and still am) sad about losing her, so I've found it comforting to listen to music of the instrument she liked. Then I posted a thread about it on Twitter and started getting feedback from Twitter's enthusiastic viola da gamba community. Here's the thread, if anyone is interested: On cats and music.
posted by homunculus at 4:59 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Paolo Pandolfo is a phenomenal viola da gamba player I recently heard on his recording of Telemann's Fantasias for viola da gamba.
posted by kmkrebs at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


I got to sing with a consort of viols once. It was way cool.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:13 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


My introduction to the music of Marin Marais was Slava Tsukerman's quirky Fairlight soundtrack to 'Liquid Sky' (1982). I've been a fan of Marais ever since.
posted by ovvl at 5:34 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


And here's some viola da gamba playing that's a little different from the rest: Colleen.

Loop and sample-heavy, Colleen's been playing v.d.g. since the early 2000s and yes, was inspired by Tous les Matins du Monde.
posted by scruss at 5:35 PM on February 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Saw Jordi Savall with Hesperion XXI at the RFH back in September.
posted by Segundus at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I fell in love with the viol in grad school, but then really fell in love with the amateur community - the annual Conclave (which I affectionately call "gamba camp") that the VdGSA puts on is the most joyous, nerdiest, amazing week of the year....imagine ~250 players from high school students to retirees getting together for a week to take classes (taught by amazing faculty) but also staying up until 2 or 3am every night drinking wine and playing Renaissance music as a social activity...it's truly amazing and unique and I love it. This year's Conclave is just outside Portland, and every Conclave offers free beginner classes to local residents if you're in the area and interested in trying it out! Also available on the VdGSA site is a directory of teachers - it's likely there's a teacher in your area or that travels to your area to teach if you're interested!
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 6:29 PM on February 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


another performer with different take on the viol is Liam Byrne, who effortlessly fuses old and modern in his collaborations
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 6:32 PM on February 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Elysian Fields is "one of the world’s few electric viola da gamba ensembles. It was formed by Jenny Eriksson, Matt Keegan and Matt McMahon in 2015. In late 2018, they released their first CD, 'What should I say', on the MOVE label. The band is an ongoing experiment in creating new improvised and composed repertoire for the electric viola da gamba – of which Eriksson is believed to be the only Australian exponent."

Picture: Close up of the electric viola da gamba in action.

Here's their music video. It's fantastic.

"What should I say"
posted by homunculus at 6:39 PM on February 26, 2019


Here's another video by Elysian Fields with the gambist playing the electric viola da gamba: "Jenny Eriksson's tribute to the great 18th century French viola da gambist and composer - and our namesake - Marin Marais. Based on Marais' 'Le Badinage.'"

"Elysian Fields" - after 'Le Badinage' by Marin Marais
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2019


Good times!
posted by homunculus at 7:08 PM on February 26, 2019


A friend gave me this soundtrack years ago, it's lovely.

I was a cello major in college for a couple years. My school got a viola da gamba my last quarter as a music major. I never got to play it.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:31 PM on February 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Tous Les Matins came out when I was a senior in high school and made an enormous impression on me, and viola de gamba perfectly aligns with my interests--both within the history of musical performance and "just" aesthetics.
posted by desuetude at 10:45 PM on February 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here are a couple of performances of "Strike the Viol (Come ye sons of art)" by Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695)
Strike the Viol, touch the Lute;
Wake the Harp, inspire the Flute
Strike the Viol, touch the Lute;
Wake the Harp, inspire the Flute:
Sing your Patronesse's Praise,
Sing, in cheerful and harmonious Lays.
Traditional: "Strike the Viol" performed by Thomas Cooley, tenor, and the Voices of Music ensemble (Twitter.)

Improvisational: "Strike the Viol" performed by Christina Pluhar & L'Arpeggiata ensemble (Twitter)

Previous post on Henry Purcell: Cold Genius

Previous post on L'Arpeggiata: Baroque, Meet Folk.

MeFi's own!
posted by homunculus at 11:36 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Aw, yay, I was talking about this movie seriously like three days ago. I played gamba in college (and keep daydreaming of taking it back up in a not very serious way) and was trying to remember if the movie was just popular with early music people because omg movie about early music or made more of a splash.
posted by Smearcase at 5:21 AM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


His most notorious piece was 'An Invention for Two to Play upone one Viole.'

So that's where the idea for Antagonistic Undecagonstring came from!
posted by hat_eater at 5:23 AM on February 27, 2019


Two to Play upone one Viole
posted by thelonius at 5:30 AM on February 27, 2019


> another performer with different take on the viol is Liam Byrne, who effortlessly fuses old and modern in his collaborations

I'm just starting to explore this but there's definitely some great stuff here. Thanks, Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy (and my compliments on a damn fine username!)

I really like this one: Nadia Sirota - Letter O (From Tessellatum)
posted by homunculus at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2019


The piece I linked above is an excerpt of a larger piece: Tessellatum is a 40-minute music video piece with 11 layers of viol & 4 layers of viola with loads of microtones (got by tying extra frets onto the viol neck.) The music was composed by Donnacha Dennehy and performed by Nadia Sirota (Twitter) on viola and Liam Byrne on viola da gamba, while the video was animated and directed by Steven Mertens (Twitter.)

There's more information about it in this Mini-Documentary directed by Meade Bernard: Tessellatum | Mini-Documentary

It's available here: Tessellatum
posted by homunculus at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2019


I once read somewhere (can't recall where) that Tobias Hume might be the model for Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: retired soldier, plays the viol, hung around the theater scene where he might have run into WS ...
posted by JonJacky at 8:55 PM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nice moustache.
posted by homunculus at 11:08 PM on February 27, 2019


Not a viol, but very cool: Learning the enormous 14 string Theorbo.
posted by homunculus at 10:28 PM on March 7, 2019


Shattered Glass - New Music for Viol by Women Composers: Shattered Glass is a viola da gamba recording project focused exclusively on New Music by Women Composers.
posted by homunculus at 12:44 PM on March 8, 2019






The viola da gamba and pole dancing, together at last! This is actually quite lovely.
posted by homunculus at 6:14 PM on March 24, 2019


« Older "You have to tie it with a ribbon"   |   On a cold Christmas Eve you promised a fatberg was... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments